Interpretations:The House At The Top Of The Tree

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Sounds exactly like State Songs to me. -Yamfox

It's Pavlovian conditioning gone horribly wrong. The mouse started trying to eat the house, so you gave it potato chips to get it away. It kept coming back to eat the house so it would get more potato chips, but you were out of them. Obviously the mouse would REALLY want to eat the house then, since you weren't giving any potato chips. If it kept up at it, it figured, it would eventually get the much sought after potato chips. However you're still out of them UNTIL an odd canine creature comes driving up in a VERY unsafe manner, "with its head out the window," to give the mouse potato chips for you.

This doesn't really solve the problem. Wouldn't the mouse keep wanting potato chips? The only way it knows of to get potato chips is to eat the house, so you'd have to escape from the house while the odd canine creature gave the mouse potato chips. Once the mouse was done with the potato chips, it would keep eating the house in hopes of receiving more. However, there would be no potato chips received by the mouse, considering the lack of potato chips and people to give the potato chips to the mouse. The mouse would keep eating the house until it died of tetanus from the now-rusty nails in the house. -Bob A.

  • But it's only the crumpling sound of the empty bag which leads to all that. So as long as you save the LAST handful of chips for the mouse, you should be OK. I presume the crumpling would be forgiven after that. - Chris K.


No man! You guys are missing the whole thing!! The entire thing is a paradox! The crumpling sound of the empty bag is created because you gave the chips to the dog to give to the mouse who was gonna eat the house. Here's how it went down...

Mouse plans to eat house---->You realize this, so you get chips and give them to dog (who luckily drives) to appease mouse---->This creates crumpling sound from empty bag, which is the very thing that gets the mouse mad!----> Repeat.

Okay guys...I'm sorry. That was stupid. I don't even know what's going on. This song confuses me so much that it makes my head spin. I CAN'T EVEN FIGURE OUT THEIR CHILDRENS SONGS! GOD HELP ME!!!!!

[[User:Mr. 3D PHD|<--Mr. 3D PHD]] 19:25, 10 May 2005 (EDT)

The story about the mouse, the dog, and the potato chips is cute, but it's a minor part of the song -- an excuse or scaffolding, if you will, for the real fun: the kaleidoscope of cascading prepositional phrases, the JS Bach-style harpsichord-flavored keyboarding, and the dramatic variation of tempo. --Nehushtan 16:49, 20 Mar 2006 (CST)

I think it's about a house. And the house happens to be at the top of a tree. I know, that sounds stupid. ~Anna Ng hears your words. 04:05, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

It sure does. I question your intelligence. --JelloB 04:07, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

This not a literary interpretation, per se. It is an agreement with Nehushthan's comment above that this is about the mental space Mr. Linnell lays out, the motion, the nested sets of ideas, the changes in tempo, the in-out, up-down in the music, being mirrored in the words:

(slow and stately) There's a house at the top of a tree

In the house there's a room

In the room there's a chair

And sitting in the chair is you

We telescoped inward from large to small, sailing down through the layers of things that contain other things: top of tree>house>room>chair>you!

(slow and stately) There's a nose at the end of a snout

Of a dog with his head out the window

Of a car that's driving away from the tree

That was telescoping outward from small to large, out through the layers of things that contain other things: nose<snout<dog<head<window<car

Notice we are shown the dog in a peel-away, layer-by-layer from his nose out to his transportation, and the reveal is moving in the opposite direction of the car. Are you dizzy yet? No?

(slow and stately same as before) And at the top of a tree there's a house ...chair hoo hoo hoo hoo

We just reversed and performed another telescoping back inward from large to small, through the layers of things that contain other things: top of tree>house>room>chair>you!

Let's take a refreshing breath.

Oh no, another round of telescoping outward:

(a little faster) There's a plan to eat the house

In the mind of a mouse in the woods

And the mouse in the woods


Hold on, more telescoping outward:

has a smell that's detected

By the nose at the end of a snout of a dog ...head ...window

And the car is driving away from the tree (a littler faster)


then Back inward:

And at the top of a tree there's a house (a littler faster) ...chair hoo hoo hoo hoo

Reverse, and go back outward:

(begins slowly) There are no more potato chips left in the empty bag in your hand

via chips<bag<hand

Now a holding pattern and the music speeds up, twice as many beats, because we are getting Important Plot Point #1:

And the crumpling sound of the empty bag makes the mice get mad (faster still)

And when the mice get mad it leads to a plan to eat the house (faster!)

Are you paying attention? I know you're dizzy from all the zooming in and out, but hold on for one more round:

Zoom in: And the plan's in the mind of the mouse in the woods (faster!)

And the mouse in the woods

Zoom out: has a smell that's detected by the nose at the end of a snout of a dog

And the dog has his head out the window of a car (faster! double time high sounds!)

And the car is driving away from the tree

Zoom back in: And at the top of a tree there's a house... room ... chair ... you hoo hoo hoo hoo!

Take a breath, relax, the music slows and becomes stately again. Pay attention for Important Plot Point #2, given to you out of order, so watch the magician's fingers carefully:

And the reason there are no more chips (slow)

In the empty bag in your hand

Is that the crumpling sound of the empty bag

Makes the mice get mad which leads to a plan

To eat the house (accelerating high sounds)

But just in time the dog arrives to give to the mouse (end of high sounds)

The potato chips (cymbal crash!)

That you took from the bag (cymbal crash!)

And gave to the dog (cymbal crash!)

To deliver to the mouse(cymbal crash!)

So the mouse would (cymbal crash!) not eat you (cymbal crash!) hoo (cymbal crash!)hoo (cymbal crash!)hoo (cymbal crash!) hoo toot too toot toot tooo

Phew! What just happened? I got lost in that last slug load of zooms and reverses and crashing cymbals! Did you? Yeah? Because Mr. Linnell just tricked you - with enough camera reverses and back and forths, he just slipped us a causality violation, and we were so busy looking at all the zooming and crashing, we missed it. Well, I did, anyway. :)

The plan to eat the house was both caused and remedied by the crumpling sound of the empty chip bag, but if the bag is never emptied, there is no plan to stop. We emptied the chip bag in anticipation of the plan, thereby setting it in motion, so either we go through this mice-chip-bribery cycle every year and don't have the sense to avoid opening the bag, or we violated causality.

That was some cool spatial prestidigitation! Nice misdirection! *claps*

Also, did you notice that in the end, the mice were going to eat us, not just the house? There is an identification of the tree house as the body, with your consciousness sitting all alone in the very center at the top of the tree. In the end, a threat to eat the house is a threat to your body, and even your consciousness. I only mention this because of the TMBG practice of identifying inanimate objects with the body - an ocean (My Man) a car (Thermostat) a night-light (Birdhouse in Your Soul). ~Christina Miller, June 2007

I thought that I'd analyzed this song, but Christina made me see it new again. Thank you!
Believe me, it was my pleasure! :)

Christina, there's no real violation of causality or ignorance on the part of the boy here. One could say he put aside some of the chips to appease the mouse so that he could eat the remainder of the chips. Seems like a well thought out plan. It's like saving part of your paycheck in order to protect yourself from future bankruptcy. One could say you would not need the savings if you had never deposited it, but if left to your own devices you could have spent all of your money, leaving no protection. It's just smart planning. -Liam

This is TMBG's version of "Green Grass Grows All Around." It has the same compounding, associative song structure. -Izzhov

Please realize...[edit]


Thank you.

- Lord Of All Humans

BEST INTERP EVER. A+. --Self Called Nowhere 22:23, 17 January 2011 (UTC)


'IT'S A TRAP!' -Admiral Ackbar.

The in depth, masterpiece of a villain, mouse, is just a perfectly designed villain. In short film, The House At The Top Of A Tree, the story provides us with the reason Mouse does what he does, eating the house. Truly a sad and perfectly made backstory of why mouse must eat the house. The lack of potato chips he has leads him to the sad and only reasonable option eat the house. Though mouse is the villain in this story, you get the understanding of why he’s doing what he’s doing. Mouse I soon defeated after the dog comes along to deliver the promised potato chips to save you and your house. The recent whereabouts of mouse are unknown...but he was truly tamed after given the potato chips he yearned for.